A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Augarten

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AUGARTEN. The well-known public garden on the Au, or meadow, between the Danube and the Donau-Canal, in the Leopoldstadt suburb of Vienna, interesting to the musician from its having been, like our own Vauxhall and Ranelagh, the place of performance—often first performance—of many a masterpiece. It was dedicated to the public by the Emperor Joseph II, and was opened on April 30, 1775. At first it appears to have been merely a wood; then a garden—'the Tuileries garden of Vienna'—but after a time a concert-room was built, and in 1782 summer morning concerts were started by Martin, a well-known entrepreneur of the day, in association with Mozart, then at the height of his genius. Mozart mentions the project in a letter (May 18, 1782) to his father, and the first series of the concerts opened on the 26th of May, under brilliant patronage, attracted partly by the novelty of music so nearly in the open air, by the beauty of the spot, and by the excellence of the music announced. The enterprise changed hands repeatedly, until, about the year 1800 [App. p.525 "1799"], the concerts were directed by Schuppanzigh, the violin-player, of Beethoven notoriety. They did not however maintain their high character or their popularity, but had to suffer the inevitable fate of all similar institutions which aim over the heads of those whom they wish to attract. In 1813 they were in the hands of the 'Hof-Traiteur' and Wranitzky the musician. By 1830 performers of eminence had ceased to appear, then the performances in the Augarten dwindled to one on the 1st May, a great annual festival with the Viennese; and at length they ceased altogether in favour of other spots more fashionable or less remote, and the garden reverted to its original use as a mere place for walking and lounging. But its musical glories cannot be forgotten. Here Mozart was to be seen and heard in at least one series of concerts, at each of which some great symphony or concerto was doubtless heard for the first time; and here Beethoven produced one (if not more) of his masterpieces—the Kreutzer sonata, which was played there (May 1803) by Bridgetower and himself, the two first movements being read from autograph and copy dashed down only just before the commencement of the concert. Besides this, his first five symphonies, his overtures, and three first pianoforte concertos were stock pieces in the programmes of the Augarten. The concerts took place on Thursday mornings, at the curiously early hour of half-past seven, and even seven. Mayseder, Czerny, Stein, Clement, Linke, Moscheles, and many other great artists were heard there. (The above information is obtained from Hanslick's 'Concertwesen in Wien,' and Ries's 'Notizen.')

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